Category Archives: Products

Light therapy is forging ahead

LightbulbGlow

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Researchers experiment

with light therapy

 

Hospitals in Europe are offering a ‘new’ treatment – light therapy.

I say ‘new’ – because the Greeks were using light and sun to aid healing over two thousand years ago;  they knew the benefits of light therapy when you were sick.

Now, as well as hospitals, some  over-the-counter-remedies also make use of light.  It’s all happening!

The first time I saw light being used as therapy was at La Roche Posay.  I had gone there to get help with skin problems caused by cancer drugs.  Showing me around, Dr. Lemoine said “we are researching light therapy to treat scars from burns”, and ushered  me into a room with a soft coach, and batteries of different coloured lights shining down from the ceiling.

He explained that this wasn’t designed for my conditions, but as I was a journalist would I like to experience the different lights that their other patients would receive?  So they left me there for half an hour, whilst different lights played across the ceiling.  I felt relaxed and happy as I came out – and promptly forgot all about it.

But I did notice as I travelled around Europe for the best treatment to help me with side effects, that many of the state-of-the-art clinics I visited seemed to be expermenting with light.  For instance, in Germany  Klinic Bad Sulza had banks of special lights to treat patients with Psoriasis.

Now, Mentholatum, the pharmaceutical company with lots of innovative ideas, has produced two small, hand-held torch-like devices, which might help with the problem of spots and acne, particularly if these are a problem due to cancer treatment.

Intrigued?  Will light therapy work for you?

Possibly.  Especially if you suffer from Acne or Cold Sores.

The Mentholatum range has two little gadgets using special lights, which are targeted on those who suffer from either of these distressing conditions.  As they say, “light has the potential to induce effects that are either desirable (diagnostic, therapeutic) or undersirable (toxic).  It is the selection of light of a specific wavelength, intensity and dose which results in the controlled therapeutic and beneficial use of light therapy”.

For Acne, there is a portable light system, Clearlight.  The size of a torch,                                                                                             it provides targeted treatment for spots and acne

This emits what is called ‘blue light therapy’, which has been used extensively for years by dermatologists for the successful treatment of spots, acne and blemishes. It has been scientifically proven that blue light at the specific wavelength of 415nm kills spot causing bacteria.

Part of the OXY range, Clearlight harnesses the healing power of blue-light technology in a safe and convenient hand-held device for home use. The Clearlight penetrates to the root of P. acnes, killing spot-causing bacteria and helping prevent spots from erupting.

It’s kind to skin, as the light emits NO heat, and NO harmful UV rays. It does NOT cause drying, peeling or discomfort, either.

You use Clearlight to treat active breakouts, or whenever you feel a spot erupting, to visibly reduce the appearance of spots and acne.  It can be used with your daily spot treatment, and whenever you experience a spot outbreak.

To use, all you do is press the power button and place the Clearlight device over the spot. Listen for the beep indicating that the therapeutic light is at work. The device will automatically switch itself off at the end of the 3-minute treatment cycle. Use twice daily, morning and evening, for 3 minutes until your spot has cleared.  It costs £24.99.

But, do not use Oxy Clearlight if you suffer from a photosensitive disorder (sensitivity to sunlight) or are taking any medication that prevents you from being exposed to sunlight.

For Cold Sores they have a device called LipZor to help heal cold sores.

LipZor is a patented, portable electronic device using light therapy to treat these nasty erruptions.  The device uses ‘light’ of a specific wavelength: 1072 nanomtres – to target tissues around the cold sore and improve immunological function, helping boost and speed up the light healing process.

The makers also claim that if you use the device as soon as you feel that ominous tingle, LipZor might help prevent an outbreak.   Zapping the outbreak area with this portable device you stimulate the body’s immunological function and help speed up the healing process.

In clinical trials healing time was reduced by up to three days, and can be used during the tingling phase, or later on, when that horrid blister breaks out.

Unfortunately, just shining an electric torch on a cold sore isn’t going to do much good.  The science behind this gadget says that the wavelength it delivers is critical, as the light needs to hit the tissue in and around the cold sore, to be absorbed by the photoreceptors within the tissue cells.  But using the right wavelengths helps Nature promote the body’s own healing response.

LipZor costs £39, and is obtainable in good chemists, whose advice you should follow when first using the device.

Fast forward a few years

Currently Scientists are expermenting on using light to target and destroy cancer cells in mice.

Researchers have designed a light-based therapy that allows the selective destruction of tumour cells in mice without harming surrounding normal tissue. This method of cancer therapy could theoretically work against tumours in humans, such as those of the breast, lung, prostate, as well as cancer cells in the blood such as leukemias, say scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of NIH.

Current photodynamic therapy is not specific for cancer cells, resulting in damage to surrounding normal tissue. Therefore, the researchers in this study set out to develop a light therapy that could more accurately target cancer cells while sparing a greater number of normal cells, using photoimmunotherapy, or PIT.  This uses light to rapidly and selectively kill cancer cells.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pain as side effect of drugs is badly handled

Why are medics

so bad at treating Pain?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Andy Roddick of US...

Roddick stumbles with pain daylife

 

It happens to Tennis Players such as Andy Roddick, footballers – and other sportsmen.  But they have highly-paid doctors in their team, ready to help at the first twinge.

In Britain, we find it difficult to get effective help;  at a recent Parliamentary meeting, Ash Soni, member of the Government’s prestigious Future Forum,  condemned the way cancer patients suffered from side effects from drugs.  Instead, doctors dish out painkillers as an easy way to handle pain.

Unless you are treated privately.  Or happen to live in an area where the post-code lottery is banned.

When my invaluable private neurology specialist sent me off to see his tame Physio, she gave me very specific targeted exercises to help relieve cancer-drug related pain.  Provided I keep up with a half-hour session each week doing these exercise, this pain has disappeared.

Contrast that with Cindy’s treatment.  We were chatting in the waiting room – as you do – when she said through gritted teeth, “the next nurse who approaches me with a clipboard and a perky smile, to ask “on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?” is going to get bopped on the head with that clipboard”.

And as evilly-grinning perky nurse approached, Cindy warned her :  “I DON’T know how had MY pain is.  I only know it is BAD ENOUGH that it is making me miserable.  Do you want ME to start screaming?  Or what will get into your thick head that I need help?   Give me that clipboard – I will ram it over your head and you can tell me how the pain scale registers for you.

The startled nurse shot back into her cubby hole;  when Cindy was called through by another nurse, the door shut firmly, and we never heard the end.

ONCOLOGY NURSE ADVISOR

This is magazine for professional nurses;  recently they printed an excellent article on Pain, saying “It is one of the most challenging aspects of achieving quality palliative care for the patient coping with cancer.

  • “A patient may experience psychic pain caused by having cancer and physical pain caused by the disease process.
  • A patient may have residual pain from a preexisting condition, or the ongoing pain of a concomitant disease or infection.
  • Or, the patient’s pain can be caused by cancer treatments.

Neuropathic pain is one of the worst types of pain for the patient to experience and the oncology clinician to treat. Radiation therapy, infections such as herpes zoster in immunocompromised patients, or nerve impingement from a tumor can all cause neuropathic pain, as can chemotherapy.

The latter affects sensory, motor, and autonomic pathways and is usually referred to as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN is a debilitating condition affecting patients with cancer or who are recovering from cancer. No medication specifically targets this type of unremitting pain.

CAUSATIVE CHEMOTHERAPY AGENTS

A number of chemotherapy agents are culprits of peripheral neuropathy in patients with cancer.

Neuropathic pain often worsens over time; the longer the patient is exposed to chemotherapeutic treatments the worse the pain gets—even as the medications effectively treat the cancer. Amy P. Abernethy, MD, director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, explained it this way :

“Several things happen in the treatment of cancer related neuropathic pain. The medicines we have don’t work well, so we end up using accumulating medications with accumulating side effects.

“It takes a long time to get there. So for people who have a limited life expectancy, we don’t have medicines that work overnight. We’re sequentially adding things, different medications. Figuring out what’s going to work on someone’s pain takes a while.

Also, with lack of NHS resources, the PBP (poor bxxxxy patient) finds doctors don’t have time to help, so yet again they are prescribed the next pain-killer drug on the list, and left to ‘see if this works’.

Furthermore, the neuropathy of cancer is a persistent problem. One study found that cancer survivors can experience pain for more than a decade after completing treatment.

MiEDITATION, MEDICATION, AND EXERCISE

Some patients find relief with meditation.

Some improve with applications of moist heat, such as Deep Heat

Others prefer ice treatment such as Deep Freeze

(depending on which drug contributed to the pain).

These two products have helped me with different types of pain, and can be obtained in all good chemists – so worth a try (and you see these in most doctor’s bags treating top sportsmen).

 

Physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture may also be effective for certain patients.

  I also get relief by using Regenovex patches if I get a particularly bad   ‘attack’ and can’t work out what causes the pain.

These are made by Mentholatum, whose products you often see carried by sports coaches to relieve pain in highly-paid footballers and athletes bodies.

 

 

HOW TO TREAT?

In the States most palliative care specialists conclude that symptomatic treatment is the best approach for CIPN at this time.

They suggest starting with a broad-spectrum analgesic, such as

  • an NSAID.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip)
  • and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor, generics), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor, generics)
  • Gaba-pentin (Gabarone, Neurontin, generics) or pregabalin (Lyrica) are often ineffective for patients with CIPN.
  • Anticonvulsants do not seem to relieve neuropathy related to chemotherapy, although they are often effective for other types of neuropathic pain.

If the pain is unresponsive to any of these treatments, many patients will find relief with an opioid.

But should we copy this in Britain?  In my case, my neuro-surgeon kept a very close eye on me;  after prescribing Gabapentin, he called me back into his office a month later, to say he had been reviewing my case, and didn’t think this was right for me – giving me a reasoned explanation which made a lot of sense.  But how many NHS doctors would have the time to do this?

HERE’S WHERE EXERCISE HELPS

Judith Paice, PhD, RN, director of the Cancer Pain Program in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, recommends a multifaceted approach to managing CIPN, including physical activity.

“These patients need to exercise, to keep moving to ensure that they don’t lose muscle strength,” she advises.

However, their symptoms require special safety precautions, because “they can lose proprioception—the spatial orientation of their bodies—so they are at risk for falls and other injuries.

They should make sure their walking surfaces are nonskid, eliminate throw rugs, and use a night light. If their hands are affected, they should turn down the temperature of their hot water so they don’t burn themselves because, paradoxically, their sensation of what is normal is reduced. They need frequent assessments of their feet and good foot care.

A terrible irony is that someone can survive the onslaught of cancer, only to spend the next decade or more coping with neuropathic pain caused by the very treatment that ensures the person’s survival. As more patients with cancer are survivors, more of them suffer with CIPN.

FUTURE

Given the scope of the problem, a search for medications that specifically treat this type of pain makes sense. One drug being considered, KRN5500, is derived from the antibiotic spicamycin.7 It was discovered by researchers looking for new treatments for myeloid leukemia. Although the derivative was not effective for myeloid leukemia, it did prove surprisingly successful at relieving neuropathic pain, and joint trials with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are underway. This may be the very welcome beginning of a new armamentarium for CIPN. ONA

 

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Don't pop pills for joint pain – rub on a gel

Doctors love to prescribe pills – but there is a better solution

 

I have a wonderful private doctor, whom I go to when all else fails;  he is  expensive, otherwise I would go to him every time.

The reason for this is he spends time talking to you – to find out why you are there and discuss possible solutions.

Seldom will he reach for the prescription pad – instead he tries to work out an answer to your problem.

Over lunch the other day I met a similar doctor;  he talked, and made it clear that there were other solutions to help with pain, rather than the ‘newest’ anti-pain tablet.  His ideas tallied with my disquiet about popping pills when I have a pain.     I feel that I should find out what causes this;  not mask it with an opiate.

The NHS is fast becoming the National Help-yourself service, particularly when it comes to pain, and sometimes the solutions we find for ourselves can be more helpful than a pill.

Reports say that pain clinics are feeling the freeze, and waiting times are getting longer for those lucky enough to find their hospital still has such a clinic.  If you do finally get to see someone, they turn out to be ‘paper pushers’ – and come out with my most-hated phrase: “on a scale of 1 – 10 how much would you say it hurts?”

I had polio, and my darling Polio Consultant, Prof. Guiloff,  NEVER asks me such a stupid question.  His attitude is if a polio patient says it hurts – they say this for a reason.  And you can’t tell how you feel by numbers.    However, when in pain, we often sub-consciously rub the affected part;  or when a child hurts themselves, we will say “let me rub it better”.

So when dealing with Joint Pain, it can make sense to rub in a gel, rather than take another pill – whose side effects might cause more problems.   And at lunch the doctor suggested I try rubbing in a gel called Deep Relief.


Deep Relief worked like a charm on my aching joints .

As the pain comes and goes, it doesn’t last long enough for me to still be in pain by the time I have waited to see a doctor.    But now, when I feel the first twinges, I rub in the gel;  I did this five minutes ago when my shoulder started to throb;  now it is perfectly calm and no pain at all.

However, when patients ask about different forms of pain relief, other than pills, we can face hostility.  So it was doubly reassuring to talk to this doctor and find out that he didn’t like pain killers either.  He was concerned that it was possible to cause liver damage if you became addicted, or get gastric inflammation.

When I left hospital after my lumpectomy, I was handed a big box containing 100 Tylex, but didn’t take one.  Apparently the NHS spent £91 million last year on prescriptions for pain relief, yet I wonder how many boxes are lying unused in the back of cupboards?  Different painkillers work differently on different people, but when you try and talk sensibly to a doctor about definite pains you are experiencing, how often do they take time to work out what is the cause?  Instead – they reach for the prescription pad, and sometimes you end up with a pill that makes you very sick.

Deep Relief is a topical gel which provides a combination of ibuprofen and levomenthol, which helps it to be rapidly absorbed through the skin.  It is made by Rohto, the same company that makes Regenovex (article on this site).

Basically they say that Deep Relief is ia for relief of rheumatic pain and muscular aches, pains and swellings such as strains, sprains and sports injuries, also mild arthritis.

Regenovex is for joint pain, but if you are allergic to seafood then Deep Relief works just as well for me.

www.mentholatum.co.uk

 

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Gwyneth Paltrow uses American skincare developed to help cancer patients with skin problems

Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2000 Toronto Internatio...
Image via Wikipedia

iS Clinical skincare proves we can have glamour too!

So often products developed after clinical trials have a ‘hospital’  look about them.

But seeing iS Clinical’s packaging, its clever design proves it is possible to be glamour personified without wasting resources.

And what’s inside is fantastic.  I have often written about their products, from the superb facial that is adored by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, to skincare care that really helps our radiotherapy and chemo-zapped skin.

And now they have come up with a website specially for cancer patients.  Short and simple to read, it gives basic information about the products especially developed for us, and also mentions events they run in the States to give us a fantastic day of pampering.

As they say, “The iS CANCER CARE program is proud to sponsor and participate in several events throughout the year that provide support and raise awareness in the fight against cancer, offering a vital sense of hope and relief for those challenged with the effects of cancer treatments”.

So if you are lucky enough to live in the States, keep an eye on this website for details of more upcoming events.  And if you want more information about the products than is provided on this website, go to www.isclinical.com

And please come over to Britain – we want the same pampering !

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